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Gideon Moi wants titles for locals before exploration

RIFT VALLEY
By Vincent Mabatuk | March 23rd 2016

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi when he arrived for a fundraising at Salawa Primary School in Baringo Central sub-county over the weekend. [Photo: Kipsang Joseph/Standard]

Days after oil traces were discovered in Kerio Valley, Senator Gideon Moi is asking the Government to issue title deeds to residents.

The senator said the locals must be given the titles before exploration in the region starts.

British oil exploration firm, Tullow Oil, announced a discovery of oil traces that it said pointed to significant oil deposits in northern Kenya's Kerio Valley Basin.

Gideon who is also the Senate Energy Committee chairman said the discovery would forever change the development of the region and the lives of the people.

"I asked for unity of purpose among the communities found along the valley. The Government has the mandate to ensure land owners are issued with ownership documents to avoid wrangles witnessed in the past," he said.

Last week, the oil company said it had struck oil traces in the basin, raising hopes of boosting Kenya's oil production potential.

The firm reported seeing oil traces within a depth of 700-metres while drilling at Cheptuket 1 Well in Elgeiyo/Marakwet.

"The strong oil traces encountered in Cheptuket-1 indicate the presence of an active petroleum system with significant oil generation," said Tullow in a statement.

About two years ago, the planned exploration ran into headwinds after residents of Baringo threatened to block the project, claiming they had not been involved in negotiations.

Oil drilling was set to commence in January 2015 after conclusion of seismic surveys but concerns over unsurveyed land and the community's hard stance forced the exploration company to put its activities on hold.

The UK-based firm has identified a 7,000km square area for exploration in the Kerio Valley belt running across Elgeyo/Marakwet and Baringo counties.

Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita said the policies surrounding compensation, royalties and general gains that would accrue to the locals should the oil be found, were yet to be agreed upon.

He said residents had lived in the area for decades without proper land documents.

Kabarnet Ward MCA Johanna Chebon and other political leaders from the oil-rich valley had vowed to halt exploration until locals were given title deeds.

"The firm will not proceed further unless the locals are given land documents," said Mr Chebon.

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